Review - Race Face Diabolus Oversize Bar and Stem Combo

Aug 25, 2003
by Karl Burkat  
It was time to replace the stem on my bike. I never have been impressed much by the look of a bicycle stem. The one I had was a big silver block of metal with four ugly bolts protruding out the front. I picked it up at my local bike store for about $60 cdn and expected it to last me forever. Besides, how can you wreck a stem?Four months later I took a hard bail over the bars and when examining the damage of a broken fork arch, hydraulic fluid everywhere and a couple cracked ribs, I was also treated to a twisted stem. Since then many of the parts on my ride have been replaced with bigger diameters or better build materials – except the stem. I was getting tired of riding with my steering skewed and out of alignment. It was time to spring for a new stem – one that wouldn’t repeat the fault of my old one.

A visit to Manabu’s shop Vicious Cycle on the main drag in Jasper, Alberta was the solution. He showed me the new Race Face Diabolus Stem. “Ooooooo, aaaahhhh….” got to have that I thought. Then Manabu says, “But wait – you’re putting this on your Bullit? Why not spring for the Thirty-one Eight combo?” “Thirty-one Eight? Combo? Wha-zat?” Built to the new ‘oversize’ standard to accommodate 31.8 mm diameter bars, the Race Face “Diabolus Thirty-one Eight” is indeed beefy. The ‘Diabolus’ branding makes me think of those old “Ghostrider” Marvel comics. Remember those? With the guy wielding all the power of hell from the seat of his chopper motorbike? I figure this is just the kind of stem and bar he’d put on his ride.

Race Face claims twice as stiff and 25% stronger in an impact than their regular size stem and bar combos. The stem is built of ‘6061-T6’ aluminum and weighs in at a hefty 278g. But when you’re buying parts for a rig like my Bullit, weight is a factor that rates pretty far down my list. And I figure the weight is not too bad considering the strength the stem delivers. This stem is sexy! With flame job graphics coming down from three holes drilled in the top, and a ‘Race-Face-Angry-Dude’ image warding off bad karma on the front, it’s a hot looking part – especially compared to the ‘old brick’ of a stem it was replacing on my bike! The front of the stem fits together with mated faces and secures with four bolts. The steer tube clamp bolts offer opposing bolts. It is available in 50 and 70mm lengths and carries a lifetime warranty.

Then I saw the bars. Ooooo-eeeeee! Oversized in the midsection (31.8mm) to fit snugly in the Diabolus stem, they taper and rise towards the ends where they are finished off in the same flame job as the stem, the result of a bead blasting job that combats fatigue life of the bar. My only complaint is that most of the flame graphics are not visible once all your cockpit hardware is mounted on the bar. They weigh 380g, have 1.5 inches of rise, and are exceptionally wide at 28 inches, but this can be trimmed down to personal preference. Like the stem, the bars are only available in black. Three-year warranty.

The fit and build quality of the combo are up to usual Race Face high standards. Building the parts onto my bike was simple and straightforward, as Race Face includes very easy to follow instructions with their parts. Race Face also offers a Diabolus line stem in a standard bar diameter for those of you that don’t want to swap out your regular size bars, and a new Diabolus seatpost that also sports the fancy flame job. I am confident that these parts will last me a long time and hold up to the abuse of my riding. If it’s good enough for Ghostrider – it’s good enough for me! Say… it feels like it’s getting hot in here…

Visit the Race Face web site for more information on their full product lineup!

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